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Dear Little Hannah,



Where do I start...


There is so much I wish to say, I would love to just give you a big hug. You were so lost and scared. Confused by this world, isolated and alone. Even in a room full of people, you felt like an alien, the odd one out, in a place that wasn't made for people like us. I would tell you that it does get better, as cliche as it sounds but I know you won't believe me. I guess sometimes even now I don't believe it myself. The thing with being autistic is that it never gets 'better' you just learn to live with it, you go on a journey of self discovery- you begin to understand and accept yourself for who you are, whatever that looks like and however weird it may be. After years trying to fit in, slip under the radar and masking to the point you didn't even know who you were, now we spend our life sticking out. Putting ourselves out there, we have purple hair now and it was bright pink before! We wear bright and crazy clothes and you know how much you hated being tall, we are pretty tall by the way, but now we nearly always wear platform trainers or boots!

School was horrible and I'm afraid it never got any better but it didn't last forever we learnt that our worth was more than an ability to conform in an institution, or a grade on a piece of paper no one reads. We are autistic with a PDA profile and also probably ADHD, you were just so good at hiding it no-one ever suspected a thing. A chameleon, our ability to act used against us. Now we still act but in performances rather than trying to constantly hide who we are. We still have to mask but we know what it is now and how to destimulate and reset ourselves. You aren't broken, I remember feeling so different and so abnormal. Like everyone else was given the rule book to life and we had been left defenceless. There are other people like us. We've met so many now and they aren't how it's always portrayed on the tv. We don't all rock and wear ear defenders, however ear defenders are the best invention!

We are following our passions, it's still hard but we are no longer doing what we believe we have to but what our hearts wants to. I'm currently on the train to London to do musical theatre training. You aren't the best, I still struggle with that too, we are working on it. Perfectionism never leaves but we know what we are and what it means. That's so important, it doesn't get better but we learn about ourselves. We go on a journey, a journey we are still on to this day and probably will be until we die. Understanding yourself is key to being able to live a life which is worth living. It's taken time, but I think I am finally beginning to get us. We are creative, loud and stubborn. We are thoughtful, caring and understanding. We are hard work, bonkers and articulate. We are easily overwhelmed, imaginative, empathetic and very stressed. All these things make us who we are. I wouldn't change it for the world. I know you want to be the same, but you will grow to love our crazy brain. FYI other people love us too!!

Not only do we help ourselves we are advocates for others too. We are doing loads of things with different charities, we have a blog and we are trying to make a change to the systems which broke us. Slowly but surely things are changing. I mean super super slow, like the speed of a snail, but you have to be in it to win it. It doesn't make better all those horrible things your experiencing but we now use them as our weapons in the war for change. Sadly I know it feels like you're the only one but so many others have the same stories as we do. So many other little Hannah's out there wronged by the system which is meant to help and protect us. It's tough, you can feel overwhelmed and helpless knowing the gravity of the system however you have to remember however small the change you make, that's a step towards a better tomorrow. Every person you come into contact with, that you educate and that you teach acceptance to is one less person who could damage another. The same with people who are in similar boats, even if you touch their lives in a small way you never know what impact that could have for them. We have met many who have walked in our book with us, some who just flicked through, others who made permanent footsteps in a chapter of our life both good and bad. We learn to not let others dictate the narrative of our story, they may influence our direction but not change the path our heart believes in.

We have changed. In a good way, we are discovering the Hannah which has been hidden away for so long. We didn't recover from our mental health problems back to the same Hannah but a Hannah who is authentically herself. Who is learning what she likes, what she wants to do and what her value and beliefs are. She stands up for what she believes in, for those whose voices have been pushed down and for those whose lives aren't as easy. I think you'd be proud of who we are becoming. The pain does lessen, and the hope increases. Hold on. You are so brave. You are so much stronger than you believe and will achieve things that you never dreamed you could or even had on your radar. I'm doing it for you, for a happier and healthier future.

Lots of love

Older Hannah <3 xx



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